Saturday, July 10, 2010

Doing an Online Patent Search for My New Invention

I’m offering my new invention for sale online as of a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t filed for any patent protection. I have less than a year to file for a patent or to give up my patent rights to the invention.

I don’t want to spend the money on a patent attorney at this time, but I also do not want to give up my patent rights. I’ve decided to file a Provisional Patent Application (PPA) instead. I have less than a year to file the PPA just like a Real Patent Application (RPA), but I can file the PPA myself, and then when the time comes to file the RPA I shall retain a patent attorney.

The PPA is really just a detailed description of your invention and doesn’t need “claims” and accurate drawings etc. It’s pretty easy to do. Once you file the PPA you have a year in which to file the RPA.

Rather than wait until near the end of the year’s time, and potentially missing the deadline, I think I’ll get started now. I’ll do the research and write it up now, and then when the deadline gets close I will file it. Who knows, maybe I’ll have some great new changes to make to the inventions between now and then. That way I can get them included in the protection when I file the PPA.

My invention is a selective asparagus harvester. I received a patent on the machine many years ago and the patents have long since expired. My new patent needs to get around my old patent. It might not be easy.

I think for my first step I should do an online patent search to see what I can claim in the way of novel improvements (something physically different from all other similar inventions), that are unobvious (something new and unexpected), and that I feel I can get some patent protection for.

In past searches (years ago) I remember getting the results of professional patent searchers that contained not only asparagus harvesters, but other types of machines like vegetable harvesters and sorting machines etc. So I am going to have to be careful in selecting the classes that I search to make sure I don’t miss anything relevant, but not referencing asparagus in particular.

I have even been considering not filing it as an asparagus harvester, but as a vegetable harvester to broaden the scope of my patent protection and offensive rights.

I’ll first go to the USPTO website and browse through classification index and take note of some classes that look promising. Under A I find Asparagus Harvester…. 56 / 327.2.

So I will want to check class 56 subclass 327.2. Class 56 is “Harvesters”. In the index you can click on the “56” and it takes you to the class definitions. There you can find more information. Under the subclass 327.2 it states that it is indented under the subclass 327.1 which means I should check that class as well. Fortunately there aren’t a lot of asparagus harvesting machines that have been patented which makes my search much easier. Unless I uncover a new patent issued after I received my patent, all I really need to do is make sure there are new features of my harvester that are “novel” and “unobvious” over my previous patent.

In Class 56/327.2 there are 57 patents listed as being asparagus harvesters. My next task will be to take a look at each of the patents and see which ones may have similar workings to mine. I’ll then examine those that do, and probably some of the patents that those patents reference as well.

Once I get the list down to just the patents that show similar methods or machinery I will go through them and see if my new harvester design is patentable over the prior art of all those existing patents. Shouldn’t take me more than a week or so…